Dufur teacher focuses on tech

Dufur High School teacher Dezirah Remington, who started working at Dufur High School in February, has been selected for three special programs, including one that will take her to Washington, D.C. in October.

It is turning into a very busy summer and fall for Dufur High School teacher Dezirah Remington, so it’s lucky that she likes to stay active.

“I’m not good at sitting around,” Remington said. “I love to be busy. I prefer small schools for a reason: I like to be challenged.”

Remington, who started teaching at Dufur High School in February, teaches math, science and social studies. That’s a heavy load in itself, but she is also taking over Dufur High School’s robotics team, and will be the school’s assistant volleyball coach.

And that’s just the work she does during school hours. Over the past few months, Remington has been accepted for three special outside programs.

First, she was awarded a full scholarship to attend a week-long professional development conference in Golden, Colo., in July. The program introduced her to the “Exploring Computer Science” (ECS) research-based curriculum, in which students learn computer science through hands-on problem solving.

“It is about how to bring college-style research into the classroom,” said Remington, who earned her master’s degree in teaching at the University of Portland.

Remington will be adapting what she learned through the ECS course into a math elective at Dufur to help students learn concepts such as statistics, coordinate geometry, and number theory.

Next, Remington was chosen to be one of approximately 30 Oregon educators (along with another Wasco County educator, Anne Shull) to serve for the next two years on the Deputy Superintendent’s Advisory Council for the Oregon Department of Education, which will meet quarterly in Salem starting this month. Remington intends to use the platform to be an advocate in support of rural schools.

And finally, in October, Remington will be heading to Washington, D.C., for the Research Teachers Conference. Remington was one of just 200 teachers nationwide selected to attend the conference.

She will have a packed three days in the nation’s capital, meeting with the education staffs of Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden. She plans to discuss rural education with the two senators’ staff members, “to see where we are and find some support.”

Dufur School District Superintendent Jack Henderson said the school has never had one teacher earn so many prestigious honors in the same year.

“Dezi’s skills and motivation have had a very positive impact on Dufur High School since her arrival,” Henderson said.

Remington said she was surprised and very honored to be chosen for all three roles.

“I applied for stuff, and it all came, one after another,” she said. “I was not expecting that. It’s been a big year. It’s awesome.”

Remington added that she appreciates the small school ambience of Dufur, and praised the staff and administrators as “extremely supportive.”

Remington, who lives on a wheat farm between The Dalles and Dufur with her husband, Charlie Remington, is a 1998 graduate of The Dalles High School.

She began her career at The Dalles High School, teaching math for three years before accepting a position at Sherman County High School, where she taught for two and a half years and started the school’s Advanced Placement calculus program.

“But the commute was murder,” she said. “It was 50 miles each way, so when this (teaching position in Dufur) opened up in February, I went after it.”

Remington said she can’t wait to integrate what she has learned about the computer curriculum into her classroom, explaining that one major aspect of her efforts will be trying to get high school students to overcome their anxiety about math classes.

“I want to get kids over their fear, and look at opportunities in computer science,” she explained. “Technology is a big push in Oregon. We’re trying to link math and computers together, and see where it goes from there.”

Remington said 10 students have signed up for the first class.

“That’s pretty good for a non-elective class,” she said. “I’m comfortable with where we’re starting. I’d like to have 20 to 25 in the class in the next year or so. Right now, the students don’t know what the class is or what to expect, so I need this first class of brave ones.”

Henderson said Remington’s approach to education is likely to set a stellar example for Dufur’s students.

“Dezi is a talented, highly motivated teacher,” he said. “Her motivation inspires her students and leads them to great academic successes.”

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